How To Be Good

what does it take to be a good person? Being Good Should Be Our Purpose Our primary purpose should be to be best person possible - to be good. The purpose of life has been debated for as long as we have been human. There is no certain answer and many perspectives. Those debates can be held elsewhere. My premise for learning how to live is that the goal or…

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Is controlling desires a key to happiness?

Is Controlling Our desires a Key to Happiness? John Stuart Mill and Desire John Stuart Mill said “I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than seeking to satisfy them.” This seemed odd for Mill to say this. Mill was perhaps the most influential 19th century philosopher. His best known works are “On Liberty” and “Utilitarianism.” He was a strong proponent of individual liberty. Individual speech and actions…

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Reconciling Secular and Religious Perspectives on Moral Codes

Reconciling Secular and Religious Perspectives on Moral Codes “Have you heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly, "I seek God! I seek God!" As many of those who do not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter... "Whither is God," he cried. "I shall tell you. We have killed him -…

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The Moral Animal – A Brief Review

The Moral Animal - a Book on Evolutionary Psychology by Robert Wright What is Evolutionary psychology Reading Robert Wright's book on evolutionary psychology is sobering. It is a readable, interesting, and provocative explanation of this new field of science and its implications. More than once I put the book down mid-page to let the significance of what he said sink in. One cannot read this book without looking at human…

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Montaigne

Michel de Montaigne Brief summary from Wikipedia: Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Lord of Montaigne (/mɒnˈteɪn/ mon-TAYN,[4] French: [miʃɛl ekɛm də mɔ̃tɛɲ]; 28 February 1533 – 13 September 1592)[5] was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes[6] and autobiography with intellectual insight. His massive volume Essais contains some of the most…

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Virtue and Character

Virtue and Character A world with eroding standards of conduct Are virtue and character antidotes to the chaos and discord we see every day? Events in the newspapers, social media, and on television leave me feeling the world simply doesn’t make sense. Highly polarized groups can’t have rational discussions. Actions such as the Brexit vote are at odds with people’s best interests. Middle class “normal” kids join terrorist groups, cut off…

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The Times They are A-changin’

Evolving perspectives on Change The times they are a-changin' Bob Dylan's song, "The Times They are a-Changin' " was the anthem for many of my generation. It captured my feelings at the time and the desire many felt to make the world a better place and to do it now. Civil rights, the Vietnam War, the environment, women's liberation -- so much needed drastic change was needed. We were confident…

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Political decay — Insights from Francis Fukuyama

Are we experiencing political decay? Our political situation, particularly the current Presidential election process, is unsettling and unprecedented in my lifetime. Is this political decay or just a rough patch in our political process? I have been trying to determine whether my reaction has some rational basis or is just the emotional response of someone in the last third of life who, like so many before me, feels the world is falling…

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Character should matter in elections

I rarely write about politics but the current presidential election compels me to share some thoughts. I write not to advocate for or against one party or candidate. Instead, I am advocating for a principle.  That principle is that a candidate's character should matter when voting. This may seem to many simplistic, naïve, and Quixotic. But perhaps it is best to look past all the chaos of this election and focus…

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Fearless sifting and winnowing

The recent protests on several college campuses and the response by the leaders of those institutions have raised important issues that deserve public debate. One of the most important is free speech. The question is whether colleges and universities should allow speech by students, faculty, or outside speakers when some, or even most, of the people find the speech offensive. Some historical perspective, as always, is helpful.  In the late 1800's a University…

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